Open letter from law enforcement whistleblowers to Congress

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June 16, 2020

Open letter from law enforcement whistleblowers to Congress

We are law enforcement officers who have dedicated our lives to protecting the public. We also denounced the abuses of power by the police which betray our mission by endangering the rights or the life of the public. Today more than ever, America denounces deep-rooted abuses. The truth changes the course of history. Congressional and local leaders are proposing sweeping reforms. It is high time that America held our profession to account.

Why is accountability so late? You need proof. That is why these reforms will not make the difference they should without the protection of whistleblowers. While the videos have sparked a national awakening, standing up for freedom takes more than a smartphone. In many cases, it takes the testimony of those who are willing to testify. The only witness may be a fellow officer. This means that these reforms will not work as intended unless they directly tackle the blue wall of silence that permeates law enforcement.

Deep-rooted cultural prejudices have made those who exercise their right to free speech a lonely and dangerous struggle to hold their fellow officers and leaders to account. Law enforcement whistleblowers don’t just risk their careers. In too many cases, we have risked our lives. For us, raising an alarm is “committing the truth” because we are treated as if we have committed a crime.

It is often impossible to be accountable without the testimony of those who testify. So if there are no anti-retaliation rights in police abuse legislation, its reforms may not be implemented. Inapplicable laws can intensify community reaction, as they attract cynicism and resentment. That’s why Congress has included whistleblower protection in over 60 federal remedial statutes. Now, the same standards must be included in police bills for reforms to be credible.

How can whistleblowers make a difference in the implementation of police reforms? We know from experience that every rule has exceptions, and that law enforcement officers must be able to defend themselves and the public against serious threats of death and bodily harm. However, their testimony could turn citizens’ rights into reality for major guarantees that must be the rule such as:

  • the prohibition of strangulation;
  • checks on other lethal forces;
  • extended liability;
  • surveys of models and practices,
  • mandatory body camera surveillance;
  • restrictions on No Knock Warrants;
  • controls on the transfer of military equipment to the national and local police;
  • open and transparent forensic laboratory operations; and
  • precise and complete files for a national registry.

The most basic, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is the foundation for surveillance and enforcement, whether through internal police investigations, citizen review boards or Congressional hearings. This means legal protection for those who report evidence of wrongdoing. Without it, these new controls can actually be a mirage.

We risked our careers, and sometimes our lives, despite no credible protection against retaliation. But it has been a lonely battle against the blue wall of silence. Further police reforms will need to reverse a long-standing way of life that has supported abuses of power without accountability. It won’t happen unless our trickle of truth turns into a river. This river will not flow without legally safe channels to get to the truth.

Respectfully submitted,

Franck Serpico
Former New York City Police Officer

Jay brainard
Federal Director of Security
Transportation safety administration

Matthieu fogg
Former American Marshal

Lynn Gannon,
Former Special Agent,[DepartmentofInteriorOIG(andthreeotherspreviously)[DepartmentofInteriorOIG(andthreeotherspreviously)[DepartmentofInteriorOIG(ettroisautresauparavant)[DepartmentofInteriorOIG(andthreeotherspreviously)

Georges Greco
Former Special Agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration

Richard Larrabee,
Special Agent, US Department of the Interior

Robert maclean
Former Federal Air Marshal

Keith mcnichols
Special Agent Drug Enforcement Administration

Fred whitehurst
Former Special Agent for Surveillance, FBI
Co-chair, National Whistleblower Center

Steve zanowic
Former Vice-Marshal of the United States

Cc: The Honorable Jerry Nadler,
Chairman, United States House Judiciary Committee

The Honorable Jim Jordan,
Rank Member, United States House Judiciary Committee

The Honorable Carolyn Maloney,
Chairman, United States House Oversight and Reform Committee

The Honorable Mark Meadows,
Rank Member, US House Oversight and Reform Committee

The Honorable Lindsey Graham,
Chairman, Judicial Committee of the United States Senate

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein,
Rank Member, Judicial Committee of the United States Senate

The Honorable Ron Johnson,
Chairman, US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

The Honorable Gary Peters,
Senior Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs of the United States Senate

Members of the US Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus

Members of the United States House Whistleblower Protection Caucus


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